AFI Movie Club: SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON
A lavish animated production exploring America’s great vistas, SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON was brought to the screen by producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, an AFI honorary degree recipient.
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Watch SPIRIT animator Pres Romanillos in this exclusive video from the AFI Archive:
Trivia About SPIRIT
DID YOU KNOW? SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON marked the feature directorial debuts of Kelly Asbury and Lorna Cook. The two had previously worked together at Walt Disney Studios on animated films including BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.
DID YOU KNOW? Producer Jeffrey Katzenberg came up with the original idea for SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON around the same time he departed from Walt Disney Studios to start DreamWorks Animation. Screenwriter John Fusco, who first learned about the project from Steven Spielberg, spent over four years completing the script, and it took four years beyond that for the film to be made.
DID YOU KNOW? Robert Redford and singer Bryan Adams were considered for the voice-over role of Spirit, but DreamWorks has said that Matt Damon was always the first choice. Adams was selected to write the song lyrics and perform the soundtrack.
DID YOU KNOW? SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON was the first DreamWorks animated feature shot in Cinemascope, providing a larger aspect ratio for the artists to create the wide Western landscape. The animators also used Maya software on the Linux platform instead of Microsoft to reduce production costs.
DID YOU KNOW? SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON was made on a budget of $80 million and earned $122.6 million in box office grosses.
DID YOU KNOW? In 2017, Netflix released a computer-animated television version of SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON titled SPIRIT RIDING FREE, which is being adapted into a feature film by Universal Pictures and is currently scheduled for release in June 2021.
DID YOU KNOW? SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON was honored with an OscarÒ nomination for Best Animated Feature but lost to another “spirit” film – Hayao Miyazaki’s SPIRITED AWAY
Learn more at the AFI Catalog.
The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions
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-Unlike most animated films of its time, SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON does not depict animals speaking and instead shares their thoughts in voice-over narration. While producer Jeffrey Katzenberg stated that talking animals were never attempted because it made the movie “undramatic,” screenwriter John Fusco reported that the change came two years after he started writing the script with dialogue for the horses. Do you think the film is more effective because the animals do not speak? How would speaking horses change the movie?
-What is your opinion on how the story depicts Native Americans and the white settlers who are moving West?
-Describe the friendship between Spirit and Little Creek. How do the two help each other overcome adversity, and what sacrifices are required to bring them together?
-Do you think Spirit remains wild throughout the movie? Why must he compromise his freedom to find love and friendship? How is being tamed associated with both punishment and with privilege?
-Were you aware of the Indian Wars before seeing SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON? What do you think about this chapter in American history? What were the costs and benefits of the West being overtaken by white settlers?
-How would you rate SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON?
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